“Maybe I’d always been broken and dark inside. Maybe someone who’d been born whole and good would have put down the ash dagger and embraced death rather than what lay before me.”

These words open the book, setting up the theme of healing from brokenness, trauma, self-hatred, and guilt. Feyre starts her journey toward healing, transformation, and resilience from a very low point. She thinks herself unworthy of a happy future because she blames herself for the moral choice she made Under the Mountain when Amarantha gave her the task of killing two innocent faeries in exchange for lifting the curse on the Spring Court. Feyre endures frequent vivid nightmares that leave her shaken and vomiting, and thinks of herself as a murderer almost as evil as Amarantha. She is also adjusting with difficulty to life in a new, immortal body with powers and abilities she knows nothing about. While she has already undergone a physical transformation, her mental transformation will take much longer.

“I was unhappy—not just broken. Unhappy. An emotion, I realized. It was an emotion, rather than the unending emptiness or survival-driven terror.”

In Chapter 33, when Feyre, Rhysand, and Amren are on a barge with Tarquin, High Lord of Summer, Feyre realizes that she is experiencing something she hasn’t felt for a long time—simple unhappiness. Strangely, this unhappiness is something of a relief compared to the unending emptiness and terror that have been her default emotions since emerging from her imprisonment and torture Under the Mountain. Her unhappiness is caused by watching Rhysand flirt with Cresseida, Princess of Adriata, on the barge. Although Feyre suspects that Rhysand is just trying to distract the sharp-eyed princess from Feyre’s own devious interactions with Tarquin, she can’t help reacting to seeing him smiling that way at another woman. This incident illustrates how Feyre’s attraction to Rhysand is helping her escape numbness and reclaim her full range of emotions. Reclaiming the ability to feel is an important part of Feyre’s recovery from depression.

“I want you to know," I whispered, "that I am broken and healing, but every piece of my heart belongs to you."

In Chapter 55, Feyre’s transformation from depressed, traumatized survivor of torture and abuse to hopeful, loving, and powerful individual reaches a new peak when she accepts Rhysand into her life as her mate. She is aware that the healing process is far from over, but she knows she has finally shaken the self-hatred that caused her to feel numb and exhausted at the prospect of living for eternity with her own regrets and remorse. Ironically, Feyre is only able to heal once she realizes that the happy ending with Tamlin, which she always felt undeserving of, was, in fact, the wrong ending for her. Once she lets go of her guilt about her failed relationship with Tamlin, she is able to recognize and accept her real feelings for Rhysand, the faerie who is fated to be her true match. Her love for Rhysand, coupled with her exploration of her new magical abilities, combine to help Feyre transform into a High Lady by the end of the book, someone of significant personal and political power.